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Calgary Conservative MP Lee Richardson remarked that people from different cultures lack respect for authority or property but later expressed regret for his comments. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))

Liberal and NDP candidates in Calgary are calling on a Conservative incumbent to resign for connecting crime with immigrants in an interview with a local weekly newspaper.

In response to a question about recent shootings in the city, Calgary Centre Conservative Lee Richardson told an FFWD reporter that Canada has been too soft on crime.

"Particularly in big cities, we’ve got people that have grown up in a different culture," he said. "And they don’t have the same background in terms of the stable communities we had 20, 30 years ago in our cities … and don’t have the same respect for authority or people’s person or property."

He later added: "Talk to the police. Look at who's committing these crimes. They’re not the kid that grew up next door."

Several NDP candidates held a news conference Thursday morning and called on Richardson to quit.

Tyler Kinch, the NDP candidate in Calgary Centre, called the remarks disgraceful. Kinch said Richardson should resign.

"I'm hoping he will," he said. "If he doesn't, I hope Mr. Harper will fire him. And if that doesn't happen, I hope the voters of Calgary Centre will fire him and hire a new MP that will bring communities together."

'I stand by my retraction. Those who have known me through my long time in public service know that I have always supported immigration.' —Lee Richardson

Liberal Calgary Centre candidate Heesung Kim, an immigrant from South Korea, denounced the comments as "disturbing."

"To say that if you weren't born and bred in Canada then you're more likely to be a criminal is completely unbelievable," she said.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion weighed in Thursday afternoon, saying if Richardson did not step down, then "Mr. Harper must fire this man right away. He cannot be a candidate anymore."

MP regretted comments

In an interview with FFWD the day after the initial interview, Richardson said he regretted his comments, the paper reports.

"I just don’t want [my comments] to be torqued out of context," Richardson said. "We see anecdotally — and through our experiences here — the differences from the Alberta that I grew up in. And that’s the same in a lot of big cities across the country. That’s really all I was trying to say … I regret having said that yesterday."

Richardson did not return calls from CBC News, but issued a statement late Thursday afternoon: "I stand by my retraction. Those who have known me through my long time in public service know that I have always supported immigration, have worked closely with our cultural communities, and have regarded diversity as one of our greatest strengths."

Richardson was first elected with the Mulroney government in the 1980s before being defeated. He returned to politics when he took Calgary Centre in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006, winning 55 per cent of the vote.

With files from the Canadian Press